The Young Face of Courage

And a burning shame upon us all…

She has been speaking out since she was 11, an activisit in a land that treats females worse than cattle.

So, last week, still only 14 years old, they shot her in the head and neck while she was at school.

“They” — the Taliban.

You see, they don’t think girls should be educated.

They don’t think girls should have a voice, or a choice about who and when they marry.

And they certainly don’t believe any 14 year-old girl should have the temerity to challenge what they decree.

Want to see the face that so frightened the Taliban they have sworn to kill her? Meet Malala Yousafzai...

I was raised overseas, in a Muslim nation, where I was in the minority, so I think I have a natural cultural sensitivity that only comes from living abroad.

But what kind of culture encourages the persistent degradation of half its population?

What kind of religion celebrates grown men who attack unarmed girls, who throw acid in their faces if they disobey, or kill them just because they want an education?

What kind of society tolerates selling girls as young as 5 into marriage to men in their 50s and 60s?

We can be too tolerant. This is not about cultural sensitivity.

This is wrong.

Just as slavery was wrong. Completely, totally wrong. Without justification.

I hope Malala’s shooting proves to be the tipping point when the world — and not just isolated voices — stands up and demands protection and equal rights for all, regardless of gender or religion, or the country of their birth.

Ironically, just a couple of days after Malala was shot, the world “celebrated” the International Day of the Girl.

What can we do?

Speak out and speak up. Make this issue the abolitionist cause of our age. It is a moral issue, not a cultural issue.

Encourage moderate Muslims to continue to push for progressive change until the status of girls is equal to that of boys. Theirs must be the voices that are most outraged and offended.

In fact, that has already started. An editorial in The News, one of Pakistan’s largest newspapers states, “Malala Yousafzai is in critical condition today, and so is Pakistan. We are infected with the cancer of extremism, and unless it is cut out we will slide ever further into the bestiality that this latest atrocity exemplifies. For the sake of this brave girl, we must all stand up to the ruthless murderers who would see every girls’ school blown up.”

And, support groups dedicated to educating girls, like 10X10 and I Am Malala.

The Taliban has vowed to finish the job of assassinating Malala if she recovers, and now they have said they will kill her father too.


As my parents taught me when I was little, the best defense against bullies is sometimes a hard punch in the mouth. Perhaps Muslims throughout the world are learning this lesson, finally.


Shame on Islam that this young girl — and millions like her — has to choose between going to school and staying alive.

Shame on us if this 14 year-old girl has to fight alone.